The King of Swaziland has been accused of ‘showing the middle finger’ to his country’s impoverished population after allegedly spending £13million on a fleet of luxury cars for his 14 wives.
King Mswati III has imported 19 Rolls-Royces and as many as 120 BMWs, according to reports, some of which were seen being delivered earlier this month.
Witnesses spotted BMW X3 and 5-Series models, which cost more than £30,000 each, under wraps on the back of a truck as they were shipped from South Africa.
The average salary in Swaziland is estimated to be only £10,000 a year – meaning a typical worker would have to toil for 70 years to afford a Rolls-Royce – and the lavish spending has sparked outrage in the country.
Delivery: One of the fleet of Rolls-Royce cars which Swaziland’s King Mswati III has reportedly bought for his 14 wives is seen on its way for delivery to the royal family
Wrapped up: A picture which circulated online showed cars being shipped from South Africa last week, apparently on their way to be delivered to the royal family
Absolute monarch: King Mswati III (pictured in Russia last month) renamed the country Eswatini in 2018 to mark his 50th birthday
Opposition politician Wandile Dludlu accused the King of continuing to ‘spoil himself and his family,’ according to TimesLive.
‘To say this is a blatant display of arrogance and total disregard of the poor people of Swaziland’s feelings by the monarch would be an understatement,’ he said.
‘He is basically showing them a middle finger and proving to all and sundry that he is a law unto himself.’
Investigative journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika called it ‘heartbreaking news’ as he shared one of the pictures.
‘Amidst all the economic challenges Eswatini, King Mswati III yesterday decided to bless his wives with very expensive wheels,’ he said.
The King was accused of ‘spoiling’ his own family while the rest of the population ‘continue starving’, according to one Twitter user who said the monarch ‘doesn’t care much’.
Mswati III renamed the country Eswatini in 2018 to mark his 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.
The monarch has 14 wives (after one reportedly died of skin cancer), more than 25 children and a reputation for lavish spending.
With unrestricted political power over his 1.3 million people, he is the only absolute monarch on the continent and one of the few remaining in the world.
Arrival: A red and white car is delivered to Swaziland where the King has been accused of ‘showing the middle finger’ to his country’s impoverished population
One of the cars which King Mswati allegedly bought for the royal family – sparking outrage in the country
On the throne since 1986, Mswati has previously attracted controversy over his purchase of a £200million luxury jet.
According to one estimate, the average salary in the country is only £10,000 a year – meaning the King’s typical subject would have to work for around 70 years and spend nothing else to be able to afford one of the Rolls-Royces he bought.
The World Food Programme estimates that 63 per cent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.
In addition, more than a quarter of people aged 15 to 49 are believed to be living with HIV.
According to NGOs, 10 percent of the population is responsible for around half of the nation’s consumption.
The UK provided around £300,000 of foreign aid to the country last year, according to government figures.
Anger: The King was accused of ‘spoiling’ his own family while the rest of the population ‘continue starving’, according to one Twitter user who said the monarch ‘doesn’t care much’
Under cover: Witnesses spotted BMW X3 and 5-Series models, which cost more than £30,000 each, under wraps on the back of a truck as they were shipped from South Africa
Earlier this year, public service workers took to the streets of the capital Mbabane to demand higher pay.
Opposition leader Dludlu claimed that civil servants have not received a promised pay rise in three years while the country’s health system is said to be on the verge of collapse.
‘Notwithstanding the outrage of Swazis over the purchase of the Rolls Royce vehicles, the King Mswati-led government continued to rub salt into the gaping wound suffered by people by purchasing a further 120 BMWs and 30 motorbikes,’ he said.
‘We strongly condemn in the strongest possible terms this brazen looting of the oppressed people of Swaziland’s hard earned taxes.’
Dludlu called on residents to ‘stand up and face up to this evil regime that continues to keep us in bondage’.
He added: ‘Under no circumstances can we allow one family to continuously condemn us to poverty. It is about time that we fight back and reclaim what rightfully belongs to us.’